A suit filed by a gamer from Connecticut alleges that Valve Corp. “has been complicit in creating, sustaining and facilitating” online gambling on “Counter Strike: Global Offensive” eSports competitions by allowing gamers to link their accounts to third-party services that provide marketplaces for online betting.
The proposed class-action suit cites services that let players buy and trade textured digital weapons, known as “skins,” for use as collateral in online betting. The plaintiff, Michael John McLeod, identifies himself as a “Counter Strike: Global Offensive” player who purchased and gambled skins, knowing that he could ultimately trade them for currency, but ultimately lost.
Bellevue, Wash.-based Valve operates the popular Steam online game marketplace. The complaint alleges that Valve is enabling unregulated online gambling, including wagers by teens, by selling the skins and allowing them to be traded and sold on third-party gambling sites.
The complaint says, in part, “In sum, Valve owns the league, sells the casino chips, and receives a piece of the casino’s income stream through foreign websites in order to maintain the charade that Valve is not promoting and profiting from online gambling, like a modern-day Captain Renault from Casablanca. That most of the people in the CS:GO gambling economy are teenagers and under 21 makes Valve’s and the other Defendants’ actions even more unconscionable.”
The suit, first reported by Polygon, seeks financial restitution for gamers who lost money to recover their losses, alleging unjust enrichment and other claims. Online gambling is illegal in the U.S. but legal in some overseas markets, and companies including Seattle-based Unikrn are enabling legal eSports gambling by focusing internationally.
Valve has not yet commented publicly on the suit.